Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2017 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Fall Veggies

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Fall Veggies

Seems odd to be thinking about fall when we’re dealing with typical August heat and humidity.  But if I want some of my favorite veggies, like broccoli, spinach, and sugar snap peas, I have to move now.  So the first thing I do is pick out the seed packets for the varieties I want.  Then I read them.

As always, the back of the seed packet is the single best source of information on how to grow a particular variety.  It tells you when to plant, how deep to plant, how far apart to sow the seed, and how long to expect it to take to harvest.  If it refers to the first expected fall frost, here in our area, it’s usually the end of October.

Some of the things I think about with my fall garden are the same as with my spring garden.  I need to look at how much sun the area gets.  Most cool-season veggies need the same sun as summer veggies—six hours or more.  If you get less than that, then you can still grow leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, and mustard greens.   You can even plant onion sets, although, in less than six hours of sun, they seem to perform better if pulled as “scallions” rather than slicers.

Keeping weeds and debris out of my garden space is also important.  Just like with summer veggies, weeds and debris give insects a place to hide and/or lay eggs, and give diseases a possible host plant.  As always I try to water at the base of my veggies rather than splashing water around everywhere.  We still have hot humid days in September so no point in inviting fungus to visit. 

I also have other things to think about, like temperature.  When temperatures are on the hot side, I tend to start my seeds either in a sunny window indoors or in pots in dappled sun and shade outdoors.  That gives me a little more control over watering.  Seeds for root crops, like radishes, beets, carrots, or turnips need to be direct-showed however as they do not transplant well.

The biggest insect pest I have to worry about on cool season veggies is the cabbage worm.  And they don’t just get on cabbage either—they’ll get on broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collards, radishes, even lettuce!  Oh, I’ll get the occasional aphid, but they’re easy to simply wash off with the hose. 

Cabbage worms and cabbage loopers (both types of caterpillars) are voracious feeders that can turn your leaves into lacework fast.  As always, the best treatment is prevention.  If you see pretty little white butterflies flitting around your garden then immediately start looking for the eggs.  They lay one egg on the back of a leaf, so you have to have a sharp eye.

The eggs hatch in a few days to either a somewhat fuzzy green caterpillar (cabbage worm) or an “inch-worm” like caterpillar (cabbage looper).  At this stage, I’ll hand-pick (they don’t bite or sting) or, if inundated, will spray with a garlic oil or hot pepper spray—which are fairly effective.  If you have row covers, you can use those to prevent butterflies from laying eggs in the first place. Companion planting can also help.  They don’t like the smell of strong scented herbs, like rosemary, oregano, mint, etc. 

Nothing can beat fresh broccoli, lettuce or arugula you just picked, or the fresh sugar snap peas that never make it inside because I eat them all in the yard.  I can’t wait!
Posted: 8/15/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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